The Santiago E-Prix, the season-opening race originally scheduled for the 16th and 17th of January, has now been postponed to later in the first quarter of 2021 as the Chilean government has closed its borders to all UK flights.
The postponement follows the spread of a new mutated strain of COVID-19 that has forced the UK Government to place large areas of the country, including London and South East England, into tier four restrictions; the most severe restrictions that have been applied outside of lockdown.
On Monday the Chilean government responded by issuing a travel ban to all visitors from the UK within the last two weeks, and all UK flights to Chile have been cancelled. 44 other countries in the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia have also imposed similar restrictions on travel from the UK.
With the championship and half the teams being based in the UK, this presented an insurmountable logistical problem, because no exemption on the ban could be made for the series.
On Tuesday The Race broke an embargo imposed by Formula E, and leaked an official communication sent by the championship to the teams and partners, elaborating on the postponement.
“Chile has temporarily closed its borders with the UK. As such, in consultation with the Santiago municipality, we have agreed to postpone the Santiago E-Prix.” Explained the statement.
“It will no longer take place as a double-header on January 16 and 17. Instead, we are working with the city to finalise dates on which to stage the races later in Q1.
“We will officially communicate these new dates as part of our January calendar update when we will also confirm the second set of 2020/21 races.”
The postponement means that Saudi Arabia is currently set to host the first world championship E-Prix over the 27th and 28th of February. Currently the region has paused all international flights, land and sea arrivals from the UK for a week, but cargo flights and supply chains remain exempt from this.